Elected in May 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte is conducting a deadly war on drug trafficking. He encourages extrajudicial executions. Suspects are gunned down in the street by the authorities and by paid assassins. Between June 2016 and January 2017, the police executed 2,551 people. In addition, almost four thousand deaths have occurred in unexplained circumstances, according to authorities. Amnesty International has denounced a possible crime against humanity and a war against the poor.

The war on drug trafficking is contributing to the increase in the prison population. Prisons are seriously overpopulated. They have the highest occupation rate in Asia. Some of the small detention facilities with an area of under 100 m² house several hundred inmates. Prisoners cannot be locked in cells because of the overcrowding. There are not enough beds, so prisoners sleep on the floor in common areas. A large majority of the prisoners are being held in pre-trial/remanded detention. The justice system is inefficient. People are detained at police stations for days, even months, in unsuitable cells.

Prisons are understaffed. Management of primary facilities is shared with gangs, creating a climate of violence.

Buildings are in a poor state of repair. Bathroom plumbing is faulty. Overcrowding, lack of ventilation, and lack of drinking water lead to the spread of disease. In July 2016, a cholera epidemic broke out at Quezon Prison. Prisoners died of tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases.

There are many political prisoners. There are ongoing armed conflicts between the government, Communist and Islamic groups. These conflicts lead to arbitrary arrests, secret detentions and acts of torture.

Country population


/ United Nations

Type of government

Presidential democracy

Human Development Index